Portugal hand Antonio Conte first defeat as Italy coach in friendly.
Italy will not be seeded for the upcoming World Cup qualifying draw after a 1-0 friendly defeat to Portugal in Geneva denied them the requisite coefficient points.Eder scored the only goal of the game as Portugal recorded their first win over Italy since 1976 with a 1-0 friendly success in Geneva on Tuesday. Fernando Santos’s men were in buoyant mood after last Saturday’s 3-2 Euro 2016 qualifying victory in Armenia and they produced a solid display against the Azzurri, who were previously unbeaten under coach Antonio Conte. With World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo given a rest, Portugal handed a start to Sporting Braga striker Eder, who had scored 10 league goals this season for his club in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. After a low-key first half in Switzerland, the 27-year-old striker, born in the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau, grabbed his first goal for his country with 52 minutes gone after an assist from Ricardo Quaresma.
The Azzurri continued experimenting the 4-3-3 system, but above all needed a victory in this Geneva friendly to secure a place as seeds in the draw for 2018 World Cup qualifiers. There were numerous injuries and absentees on both sides, including Gigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Marco Verratti and Simone Zaza. Cristiano Ronaldo was not involved, causing the Portuguese Federation to pay a a 400,000 penalty to Swiss organisers of this friendly. Italy had faced Portugal 24 times with 18 Azzurri wins, two draws and four Selecao successes, but since 1976 that record was 10 victories and a stalemate.
Beto got an early feel of the ball when Andrea Pirlo fizzed a ball into his gloves from a free-kick but Italy’s radar would malfunction for most of the match. Ciro Immobile did well to get down the left wing and cut inside to take a shot, but his effort was poor and sailed wide. Andrea Bertolacci soon followed suit with a screamer that whipped past a post. There was a better effort from Stephan El Shaarawy before the half-hour mark, the AC Milan striker bursting down the left before ripping a curling finish inches wide of the far post.
The last opportunity of the half fell to Ricardo Quaresma, who dithered in possession while trying to pick his spot as an assortment of Portugal team-mates begged for the pass.A sign of promise followed the resumption as Leonardo Bonucci got his head to another Pirlo free-kick and clattered the frame of the goal. It was a false dawn for Italy, though, as their opponents broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Eliseu beat two men in the midfield before setting up Quaresma for an outside-of-the-boot cross to Eder that the Braga striker turned in for his first international goal.Italy were sluggish in their response and the only real talking points for Azzurri fans were the introductions of Argentina-born Vazquez and Nicola Sansone, the Sassuolo striker making his debut. Another substitute, Alessandro Matri, almost levelled from close range two minutes into stoppage-time, with Palermo’s Vazquez waiting until the death before drawing Beto into a fingertip save.
Italy, who earned a highly creditable 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw in Croatia last Friday, pressed for a leveller and Inter Milan defender Andrea Ranocchia should have provided it in stoppage time, but he fired wide with the goal at his mercy.